How to Assess Your Local Police-State
August 3, 2011
By Austin White
I was purchasing gas recently and picked up one of those $1 garbage publications that list and show all of the people who have been arrested in your area in the past few weeks. They usually have names like Jail Paper and Under Arrest Gazette. Normally I would never buy a publication that profits from the police-state in such a way, but my curiosity got the best of me and I had to see just how many of the arrested people displayed in this rag were arrested for victimless (i.e. non) crimes.
The magazine covers arrests in central Florida counties Hillsborough, Pinellas, Hernando, Pasco, Orange, Lake, Seminole, and Osceola and is issued twice a month.
I went through and added up, county by county, the total number of arrested people displayed and then counted how many of those were arrested for committing a victimless crime. I excluded people arrested for out-of-state and out-of-county warrants due to the lack of information on the charges.
I used the most consistent definition of a victimless crime, which is any action that is illegal according to government policy, but does not actually bring direct detriment to any person or property. Examples include prostitution, drug possession, drug selling – none of the people arrested for these actions actually violate anyone else’s rights. Some people were arrested for driving without a license or registration and driving with an unregistered license plate – all acts that harm no one. I also considered drunk driving to be a victimless crime while counting, because the act of driving drunk itself harms nobody (see Radley Balko, Lew Rockwell, Jeffrey Tucker, and Mark Crovelli, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for further elaborations on drunk driving policies).
A real criminal is someone who has actually violated another’s property rights, i.e. someone who acts governmentally. Examples include the acts of assault, trespassing, theft, fraud, rape, and murder. The great majority of crimes of this sort in the magazine were assault and theft.
Anyway, in the last two weeks of July 2011:
-Orange County had 103 arrests, 45 of which were for victimless crimes (44%)
-Hernando County had 68 arrests, 33 for victimless crimes (49%)
-Pinellas County had 269 arrests, 123 for victimless crimes (46%)
-Lake County and Seminole County combined had 152 arrests, 76 for victimless crimes (50%)
-Hillborough County had 215 arrests, 121 were for victimless crimes (56%)
-Osceola had 49, 14 for victimless crimes (29%)
-Pasco County had 119, 74 of which were for victimless crimes (62%)
In total, the published arrests from these eight counties amounted to 975 in two weeks. Of those 975 arrests, 486 were for victimless crimes – making the overall percentage of victimless crime arrests 49.8%.
One out of two people arrested in the Central Florida area in the last half of July didn’t harm any person or property, but yet they were arrested, humiliated, and will now have to spend great deals of money and exhaust irreplaceable time and energy dealing with the state.
(In Hans-Hermann Hoppe voice): Not only are the arrested individuals harmed, but each arrest costs taxpayers thousands of dollars even if the arrested choose not to challenge their charges in court. With each person put in handcuffs the tax burden on the productive class increases, which produces decivilizing effects on all of society as the increasing tax burden reduces incentives to produce and raises the social time preference as people become more present-oriented and more likely to engage in crime. In addition, people will become less likely to save and invest their money which will produce a negative effect on economic growth as capital accumulation decreases. The increase in crime and decrease in economic vibrancy will influence many people to demand an ever bigger government which will only speed up these decivilizing effects brought about by the same government in the first place.